Buyer chosen for Collins and Main lot
By Brian L. Gray
The Mandan City Commission has decided to begin negotiations with Dakota Commercial, Community Contractors and JLG Architects for the lot at the northeast corner of Collins Avenue and Main Street.
The development group plans to build a mixed-use building, with the ground level planned to be used as commercial space and the three floors above it committed for roughly 30 apartments.
Dakota Commercial, Community Contractors and JLG Architects offered to buy the lot for $1 per square foot in an updated proposal submitted to the commission during the meeting, at an amount of $16,250. The look of the building will match the historical look of downtown.
The approval received a 4-1 vote, with Commission Dennis Rohr voting no. “I talked with a number of people, and got a variety of opinions as to what they felt was the best idea for the property,” Rohr said. “The apartments would bring in a better value than the bank, but I think this would create a parking problem, and could be a significant parking problem which won’t be easy to solve.”
The motion by the city was made only to enter into further discussions with the development group. An approval for the empty lot will be made at a later date.
The developers would not begin construction until they get a confirmed tenant for the first floor, said Mandan Business Development Director Ellen Huber. “They have investors waiting, and if city will accept the proposal, we could look at a six-month limitation for the main commercial space.”
Commissioner Dot Frank said one of Mandan’s current concerns is its lack of housing, and she would like to see more housing brought in downtown to assist in its revitalization. “We have an incredible underdevelopment in housing right now, and it impacts a number of things in our community,” she said. “The city of Bismarck would love to have additional housing downtown, and they don’t have that availability. And Mandan is in a unique position where we can add housing downtown, and people are seeing a huge payoff in that investment… We could use this space to leverage more growth.”
The city received two proposals for the property. The other bid was from BNC Bank, which planned to expand and offer its commercial and agricultural banking services. The bank offered to purchase the land for its asking price of $162,250 and invest $1.5 million in the construction of a two-store building. It was not requesting any tax incentives.
Rohr pointed out that the renovation of the Iverson Building is considering bringing in a bank when it is upgraded, which would mean having two banks next to each other. He said the commission needs to narrow its focus on its longterm plans for downtown.
“What is our focus downtown? How do we view it and what kind of businesses do we want placed there?” Rohr asked the commission.
Mandan resident Carla Barrios asked the commission why they were having a hard time making this decision, when the bank is a more preferable choice. “You’re putting us in a position with a business that already owns a building about a block away from this lot, which still has a vacant commercial space,” she said.” I think before you approve this you need to have them take care of that empty lot. Let’s not have another business come in when they haven’t had another space filled yet.”
Huber pointed out that the commercial space Barrios was referring to, at the corner of Main Street and First Avenue N.W., is being rented out at this time, but only half of the space is being rented.
Construction would begin in the spring and be completed by the end of 2013 if an agreement is made with the city.
(Note: Corrections have been made to this story. The story originally state that “Dakota Commercial, Community Contractors and JLG Architects offered to buy the lot for $1 per square foot in an updated proposal submitted to the commission during the meeting, at an amount of $16,250.” The development team has, in fact, updated this proposal to purchase the lot for $1 per square foot in an updated proposal submitted to the commission during the Jan. 9 city commission meeting, at an amount of $16,250. The story also incorrectly mentioned the address of a building previously built by Dakota Commercial, the Mandan Place. The story quoted that the building is at Main Street and Third Avenue N.W., the building is actually located at Main Street and First Avenue N.W.)